My increased awareness of “shoulds” in my life has made for an interesting week. I’ve caught on to a lot of judgment just by keeping an eye out for that one particular word, and it’s been a challenge to allow for what IS, as opposed to what I think SHOULD be.
I was expressing some frustration yesterday, and I danced around using the “S” word in my email to a mentor: “I realize that by now I could (should?) have achieved a greater measure of success, but…”
I give myself credit for questioning the “should” and sticking it in parentheticals, but I wish I hadn’t felt compelled to type it at all. Because not only is there nothing the slightest bit wrong with where I am, it’s possible that I’m exactly where I ought to be. A change may not even be necessary.
But what if it is?
I feel like I’m constantly seeking a measure of balance–how much action to take, how much stillness to settle into. This applies on a basic physical level–go to yoga or sit on the couch?–but it also affects my philosophical mindset. Is it okay for me to sit back and be content, or do I need to lean in more?
The answers shift depending on why and when I’m asking, but in general, feedback indicates I’m making progress and doing well. I can surely use a little push here and there, but since I tend to expect too much of myself (even if it feels like I’m hardly asking enough), I am trying to be more appreciative of where I am and all I’ve accomplished. Last night I had a realization that helped:
I deserve the same compassion I give to children.
I would never ask a child to grow up fast, both because children deserve their childhoods and also because children physically cannot speed up their growth. Can you imagine, being annoyed with a kid for not having lost all her baby teeth, or not having yet reached puberty? Some things aren’t meant to be meddled with: We grow at our own pace and a good deal of the process is out of our control.
And just as I would not chastise a child for needing time to develop vital life skills, I do myself no favors by rushing my adult self to graduate to the next level of my journey, whatever that may be. For all I know there might not even be a “next level.” Though I struggle to believe, the truth is that there is no prize at stake, no brass ring to swing for. This, now, is it, and it is wonderful, and I really want to remember that.
Slow down and grow up—what a relief to realize I can do both.